Coyote fur is high fashion. The animals’ pelts provide the lush trim on the hoods of the country’s most stylish winter parkas. And despite this year’s weather woes, animal welfare protests, and economic pressures, the coyote business continues to grow.
Fur experts say the uptick in coyote demand began with Canada Goose parkas, the coats with the distinctive Arctic Circle patch. For years, celebrities and their followers have been donning the parkas, which can retail for more than $1,000 each.
Today’s market demand for coyotes comes as trappers deal with recent economic slumps in China and Russia, competition from ranched fur, and pressure from animal welfare activists. A good western coyote, with its silky, light-colored fur, can fetch more than $100. The top price at a recent Colorado auction hit $170, up 40% from four years ago.
Coyote trappers see themselves as sportsmen helping control populations of an abundant animal often considered a nuisance. Coyotes have been spotted from the streets of Los Angeles to Manhattan's Central Park. Farmers view them as chicken poachers, and suburban residents see them as threats to their pets. To trappers, coyotes are one of the few money-making animals, along with bobcats and a few others.
John Hughes, longtime fur buyer, pays trappers about $75-$120 for a western coyote. He sells to companies that create trim strips. Those companies then sell to garment makers. Hughes handles an average of 10,000 coyotes annually, though the numbers are down for western coyotes this year. Some blame early-season snow in Canada and the western United States, which made it harder for trappers to get out. Others believe there are simply fewer western coyotes this winter.
Still, the fur business is brisk. "Coyotes are going to move," Hughes says. "Good-quality coyotes are going to sell."
(A Canada Goose coat with a hood trimmed with coyote fur. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)